By Eileen Tilson
Jay Harren knows a thing or two about the lives of musicians. Entering the Atlanta music scene as the host of the nationally famous 99X show “Sunday School,” Jay has had his finger on the pulse on the hottest music for decades. After moving to New York as A&R for Columbia Records, Jay was able to take his savvy and jump head first into the wild world of musicians. After spending time on the road with some of his artists, he noticed that they had a massive amount of downtime, and a lightbulb went off in Jay’s head. “What if musicians used a bit of that downtime on the road to bring some attention to a worthy cause?” Jay chatted with me this morning about his worthy cause and the stars that have already signed on to help.
Hi Jay! How are you?? What’s new?
Just trying to get this project off the ground and to attract as many artists as I possibly can!
Speaking of, tell me, how did the concept of Downtime come to fruition?
Well I was on the road with one of the bands I signed, and I was amazed at how much time they literally just sat around doing nothing… not like they weren’t doing their jobs, but we would be on the road for five to eight hours to the next gig, they would do their soundchecks, interviews, etc, and then would literally have hours of time to spare. I just thought to myself if they could spend just as little as 10-30 per week of that downtime helping towards a cause they believed in, instead of watching movies, surfing the web, or cracking open another bottle of Jack, there could really be some really cool rewards.
That’s such a cool idea! And wow, what a great cause, so who was the first to jump on board?
Well since I work so closely with Hey Monday, I asked Cassidy to let me use her as a beta tester. So she found a cause she believed in, Invisible Children, and we made a little video, and she literally started helping them raise money by using her downtime to promote the cause through the use of social media.
So how do musicians find out about this? Is your website up yet? When is the official launch?
The official launch will not probably be for another month or so, I really want to make sure we have a steady line up of artists on board before we launch. We do have a website that we will use eventually (www.mydowntime.com), but I realized that most of these fans are online using social media. For example, Hey Monday is not a household name by any means, but they have over 600,000 fans on Facebook. That’s a huge reach! So we are going to stay on Facebook for right now, where all the action is.
So what is the process for artists to go about getting involved with Downtime?
Well, first they would pick the cause that they feel the most passionate about. Then they would record a little video about why they care about that cause, and why they hope others will too. Downtime will get in touch with that non-profit to let them know about the artist who is going to promote, and also to find out if there is any other information that they would like mentioned. We create their Downtime page on Facebook, and off they go. Honestly if they just spent a minuscule amount of time showcasing a great cause, they could reach so many people. Charlotte Sometimes is the first artist we have up and running, and we are using her site as an example right now: Charlotte Sometimes’ Downtime Page.
Who else do you have on board so far?
Well Butch Walker just signed on. He is getting ready to tour, so he picked his cause , the “I’m Too Young for This! Cancer Foundation” and will use his different social media followings to promote his cause. Other bands that just signed on are We the Kings, Anberlin, Hey Monday, Grouplove, and obviously Charlotte Sometimes. I am still on the hunt for more bands!
Wow Jay, this is truly a great cause.
It’s a win/win for everyone. The non-profit gets attention from groups of people that might never have heard of them before, the artist feels good about being a part of cause they truly believe in, and the fans get to be a part of their favorite artists’ passion.
Make sure you stay up to date with all of My Downtimes happenings: twitter.com/downtime